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Pokémon Go is a free app in which the player uses GPS location settings to catch, collect, train and fight Pokémon characters. Using GPS, the app encourages players to travel around the real world to seek out the different Pokémon characters. With approximately 70 million monthly users, players can hunt and battle Pokémon everywhere and use the camera on their device to make the experience more realistic – using augmented reality. Players can also play with friends by sending friend requests, trading Pokémon, sending gifts, joining raids, taking snapshots and battling against each other. There are features on the map that include ‘Poké stops’ and ‘Poké gyms’ where players can battle their Pokémon. When used safely, this game is all about fun and exploration.
Official age rating
This is a PEGI rated 7 game.
The PEGI 7 rating reflects the mild cartoon-like violence between Pokémon characters within the game. It is not a game with realistic violence or adult themed content. In the Apple App Store and Google Play store, the game is rated as 9+. There are no age verification methods used when creating an account, so ensure your child has entered their correct date of birth to benefit from some of the safety settings.
Find out more about age ratings in our A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games.
How children and young people use the app
Pokémon Go is a fun, engaging and easy to play game based on catching Pokémon (various creatures that come in multiple shapes and sizes with different powers and franchise-based histories) which players can collect, evolve and battle with against other players. This game is different to many other free games available for younger people. It is popular among children due to its augmented reality, where players can progress through the game by actually moving and visiting different locations, rather than sitting still in front of their device, as with most other games. Essentially based on the premise of bug catching, players feel attached to the Pokémon they have caught and are especially proud when catching one of high power, value or rarity. Players can play with their friends, family or on their own by visiting ‘Poké gyms’, ‘Poké stops’ and can show off their growing collection of Pokémon.
Pokémon Go contains some mild violence as players battle Pokémon against each other. As the game is animated and based around virtual reality, the majority is not realistic and therefore not particularly violent or graphic. There is no in-game chat function within Pokémon Go so users are unlikely to be exposed to bad language or mature content within the game. It is important to note that as the game requires players to visit real-world locations, it is possible they could be exposed to other players who use such language in a real-life context.
Connecting with others
The main risk within Pokémon Go is the potential to meet with strangers in the real world. As the game requires players to use real life GPS locations to collect and battle Pokémon, there is a risk of younger players meeting with older users at predetermined locations such as Poke Stops. Speak to your child about the risks of meeting with strangers and explain the importance of not going to a different location with someone they don’t know. It is recommended that children and young people should not visit designated locations without adult supervision to reduce this risk of stranger contact.
Pokémon Go does allow its players to interact with each other through battles and trading. As the players that you interact with on Pokémon Go are determined by who you are friends with either in person or on other apps, it is recommended that you are aware of who your child is friends with or interacts with on all of the apps they use.
Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, have a set of player guidelines which all players must adhere to. Players who deviate from the expected behaviour risk being removed from the game. Speak to your child about what is appropriate behaviour both on and offline for this game and ensure they know how to report inappropriate or offensive behaviour.
Design, data and costs
As with most free online games, there are opportunities for players to make in-game purchases to personalise their characters. These do not benefit the gameplay, but they can nonetheless be extremely appealing for children. Speak to your child about in-app purchases and ensure they understand that real money is used to make purchases within the game. You can also set up relevant in-app purchase settings on your device. It is also important to check that the game is not linked to your bank cards or financial details.
Tips for keeping your child safe
In order to play Pokemon Go, the app needs to have access to certain location settings and other information. To help manage privacy, you need to restrict the additional data that the game collects from your child’s device. The best way to manage privacy from Pokémon Go when you have finished using the app is to email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to delete the personal information they have collected from you.
To manage privacy and data:
- On the main page, select your ‘Trainer profile’ and tap the hot air balloon icon.
- Select the ‘Settings’ menu and toggle either on or off the option to:
- Let my friends see info about the last time I played Niantic Games
- Let my friends see my username from all Niantic Games
You can manage your interactions quite easily in Pokémon Go. Players can add friends to their game by sharing their individual trainer code. Friends within the game can either be phone contacts or Facebook friends, if they have linked their Facebook account.
To manage friend requests:
- On the main page, select your ‘Trainer profile’ and tap the hot air balloon icon.
- Select the ‘Settings menu’ and toggle either on or off the option to ‘Let others send me friend requests if I am in their important contacts’.
To remove a friend:
- On the main page, select your ‘Trainer profile’.
- Tap the ‘Friends’ tab to open your friend list.
- Select the friend you want to remove and at the bottom of their profile, tap the ‘Remove friend’ button.
You can report and block users who may be bothering you or behaving inappropriately on the platform.
To report a player:
- On the main page, select the ‘Poké ball’ icon.
- Click the ‘Settings’ symbol in the top right-hand corner.
- On iOS, tap ‘Contact Us’ and on Android, tap the speech bubble icon.
- Type your issue into the message box and select ‘Report a player’ when given the option.
Whilst this game is free to play, in-game purchases are available. You can disable in-app purchases on each individual device itself. You can also limit the number of notifications received, to help encourage screen-free time.
To disable ‘Push notifications’:
- On the main page, select the ‘Poké ball’ icon
- Select the ‘Settings’ symbol in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to ‘Push notifications’.
- Toggle the options on or off as appropriate.
To disable in-app purchases on iPhone:
- Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Screen time’ and scroll down to ‘Content and privacy restrictions’.
- Select ‘iTunes and App Store purchases’ and set the option to ‘Don’t allow’.
To disable in-app purchases on Android:
- Go to your Google Play Store app.
- Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Require authentication for purchases’.
Key features and terminology
The characters that players collect and train. There are over 600 different Pokémon species players can collect and train.
The avatar each player creates which collects, trains and battles Pokémon.
A ball trainers use to collect wild Pokémon characters.
This is the location where trainers teach their Pokémon to fight.
‘Poké stops’ are locations where trainers can pick up additional provisions for their Pokémon. These are usually located at places of interest within the real world.
These battles occur when a high-level Pokémon takes over a ‘Poké gym’. Players then have to team up to challenge the ‘Raid boss’ to take back the gym. Up to 20 players can join the battle and must be at the location of the gym to take part. Battles can occur between 9am and 9pm.
This is the in-game currency. Players can earn ‘Poké coins’ during play or buy them from 79p for 100 coins.
There is a designated parent portal for Niantic games, where parents can register an account to help manage their child’s privacy for all Niantic games.
Pokémon Go is part of the huge Pokémon franchise, established in the 1990s, that attracts new young players as well as older players who have been playing for many years.